Self-Narrating Lives: Genre Bending Autobiographical Works
Autobiographical artists’ books, graphic novels are often highly self-reflexive, and their meta-character as books about books, or subversions of norms, makes them sites of citation and parody in which formal mimicry and content play with readers’ expectations. Dick Higgins’s famous FOEW & OMBWHNW, pubished in 1968, is a good example of such a work. Bound to resemble a standard hymnal or prayer book, the work is a collection of essays by Higgins in his various personae (e.g. Thunderbaby) that alternately narrate a life and expound his many theories of inter-media and fluxus aesthetics. Higgins’s book makes a striking case for the connection between genre as format (look, style, binding, material properties) and the tone and manner of narration. Works by Kathy Acker and Art Speigelman perform similar twists in their play of the codes of appearance and the tone of narrative in the text and images. Performance works by Eleanor Antin or Zoe Beloff often play meta-games that cross genre boundaries in the creation of fictive autobiographical texts. To what extent do these works challenge or extend concepts of narrative and the ways in which claims to authenticity, masquerade, performance, role playing, and other conceits are embodied in self-narrating lives? The papers on this panel are each concerned with a particular case or issue that connects format features of the material expression (in any medium, analogue or digital) with expectations about pseudo or actual autobiographical narratives.
This panel is being organized by Johanna Drucker
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